Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My OCD

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post about summer, I am becoming a bit fanatical about monitoring the temperature and humidity levels.  (I will spare you my spreadsheets and graphs.)  So right now at approximately 5 pm, the temperature is 77 degrees (really awesome for July) and the humidity is 87% (really crappy).  This means the two together equal 164, theoretically in the "be very careful" zone for physical activity.  Oh, and it's sort of raining off and on, which means going outside is sort of like being wiped with a damp washcloth...constantly.  And it's kind of hard to breath deeply because the air just feels heavy.

After reading a lot about other people in hot climates who actually put cotton sheets on their horses and then exercise them and who then sleep without AC or under blankets (see this post and this one), I'm sort of hoping that today counts as some sort of heat conditioning day in its own right because of the high humidity levels.  I have to admit that the thought of making myself or my horse even hotter is hard for me to even comprehend.  My horse usually spends the hottest days of the year in his stall (with access to the outside) with a fan running and I try never to venture outside between the hours of 12 and 4 if the temperature is much above 90.  And my AC is always working and if I am overheated at night, there will be hell to pay for anyone unlucky enough to be around me the next day.

Luckily, I think I can avoid any serious heat conditioning for now because I'm not planning on doing my first ride until October and then the next one would be in March or April.  While temperatures can get warm in those months, the humidity is generally reasonable and I can always do a body clip right before the ride if it looks like it will be unseasonably warm.  So, I'm going to pull an "ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand" for now and pretend that all I need to do is condition for distance...

3 comments:

  1. really, don't worry about extra heat conditioning now. Just get your LSD in and keep your horse cool - heat conditioning is something you worry about when your horse is fit, but not recovering as well as you'd like in hot weather. Don't try to make either of you hotter yet!

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  2. Hi Gail! Sorry I'm late to the party; I just discovered your blog and am catching up. As another newbie to the endurance world living in this area (MD, 30 min north of DC), I'm thoroughly enjoying reading about your experiences negotiating similar obstacles/situations to what I'm encountering on my own non-Arab (TB cross).

    Regarding heat conditioning, I agree with Funder, but wanted to add: as you're seeing, humidity changes EVERYTHING! Humidity can put a horse in serious danger, so I wouldn't try heat conditioning on the hotter summer days in this area. Do keep doing what you're doing, but I wouldn't attempt to make either of you hotter.

    My mare and I originally come from FL, land of eternal muggy heat, and once we hit 90+ degree days with 80 degree nights (in May!), her body would be so overwhelmed by the constant heat that she'd stop sweating. Even with 3 fans on her. (Bringing her north to a place with seasons and heat waves that don't last more than a week or two has been awesome for her-I've never seen her sweat so much. Exposure to cold environments snaps a horse's body out of anhydrosis.) Anhydrosis is a common occurrence for horses in hot, humid environments, and is the second sign of heat stress when it happens in the middle of a workout (first sign is rapid panting), so I wouldn't try making Nimo hotter, especially since he's a draft - with their larger body mass, they tend to retain heat even more than a non-Arab light horse. So just keep doing what you're doing. I think that even if you ever decided to go west to compete in endurance, training as is in our humidity will count as heat conditioning all by itself!

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    1. Thanks for the advice on heat conditioning! It's been awhile since I wrote this post, and I definitely agree that to do anything to my poor horse to make him hotter on high humidity days would be torture. I found out on a later ride just how much humidity can affect performance and I have no intention of jeopardizing my horse's welfare. On hot, humid days, we just go slow.

      It's so great that you're in the area! I hope to see you at a ride one of these days:)

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